There are new developments in a Rancho Mirage cold case murder investigation.
Earlier this week, we told you the California Department of Justice in now in charge of this case because of a conflict of interest in local law enforcement. Now, we’re following the money, finding out what secret these murder victims died for.
Sam Israel is a con-man who ran Bayou Investments Company. And, just like Bernie Madoff, he ran a large Ponzi scheme.
Israel tried to shake off the Feds by making it appear that he jumped off an upstate New York bridge last year. Faking his own death didn’t work. He was caught.
When Israel went to prison, he took down his business partner, Robert Booth Nichols.
Federal lawsuits claim Israel paid Nichols $10 million to locate something valuable.
It was a deposit box. Inside the box, the Feds say was a treasury note, an effective IOU for gold.
We’re not talking coins here. We’re talking 2,500 metric tons of gold. That’s $250 billion.
These treasury notes are rare and privately owned.
Sources representing the anonymous holder of one of these treasury notes tell News Channel 3 these treasury notes are in Atlanta, Cleveland, Chicago and two others in Canada. The gold is leveraged up to 400 percent in some cases.
The mere presence of these treasury notes have the power to shake up the global money market.
The Feds believe Nichols tried to steal a treasury note last year to corner the gold market. It nearly worked, until the note was found in a London Safe Deposit Company and taken back by the Feds.
But by then, investors panicked. The money market collapse was the needle that broke the global economy’s back.
Also named in this whole business scandal is John Prescott Ellis. He’s a first cousin of President George W. Bush. Ellis denies any wrongdoing.
Robert Booth Nichols has a colorful history. An FBI report from 1982 obtained by News Channel 3 claims after leaving the CIA, Nichols went into money laundering and gun running.
He even had a bit role in the 1992 movie “Under Siege,” acting as the film’s military consultant.
Nichols was owner of Meridian Arms Corporation. Documents show how he tried to make heavy weapons deals with the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. They currently run Fantasy Springs Casino. Many of these weapons deals were exposed during our 2 year long News Channel 3 investigation.
In 1981, three people were shot “execution style” at a Rancho Mirage home. Cabazon Vice Chairman Fred Alvarez was going to blow the whistle on the weapons deals before his murder. The money from weapons dealing lead to Nichols for years, but he often escaped conviction.
Federal court papers state Robert Booth Nichols recently died in Geneva, Switzerland. The circumstances are mysterious.
Is Nichols really dead? Or, did he learn a lesson from Sam Israel, his former business partner, in how to fake his own death? The mystery remains, and News Channel 3 continues its investigation.